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Now on HBO, the mini series Santos Dumont, the life of the great Brazilian forefather of aviation who used his genius towards the fusion of air and engine.
The fate of creative men is set by a series of events or lessons that end up coming together at some point to produce ideas that change the way we look at our lives.
At the end of the 19th century, a young Alberto Santos Dumont was already driving his father’s locomotives (Henrique Dumont) in their enormous coffee estate known as Hacienda Arindeúva. He was fascinated by the mechanics behind engines, and like his father, he liked engineering and was fully involved in the maintenance of the coffee production machines and the locomotives that were used to carry coffee outside the farm.
But the young Alberto had also seen other things that caught his attention such as the migration of birds and the colorful silk balloons that were released during the “Junina” festivities (Junina is for June, the time of the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere). Within that boy, who also read Jules Verne, the ideas of heaven and earth, flight and engineering, dreams and reality began to mix.
His family had resources and his father eventually gave him part of his fortune. Alberto, now a young man, went to Paris to study where the elements he had studied since his childhood would end up engraved in him, eventually making him an inventor. He did not solely dedicate to inventing as Alberto Santos Dumont would devote himself to designing devices that would take off from the ground (which at that time could not properly be managed) such as explosion engines, eventually evolving from dirigibles to an airplane, which he called “14-bis”
He named it “14-bis” as he designated each invention using the naming convention, “Number X.” The Number 14 was a motorized airship that Dumont used during its flight attempts with its first airplane, the 14-bis. It initially took off attached to the airship, and then, in the final tests, took off by its own means thanks to the engine that had been incorporated into it.
To this date, a debate exists regarding the actual first sustained airplane flight. There are those who argue that it was the famous Wright Brothers, alongside Santos Dumont. The discussion is long and complex and among the main reasons for ruling out the Wright Brothers is that they used rails and catapults in the takeoff tests, aside from virtually no witnesses (as the Wright Brothers were very protective of their work.)
On the other hand, the 14-bis took off in 1905 by its own means. However, it is alleged that the Wright Brothers had already taken off without a catapult in 1903. In addition, Wright Brother supporters argue that Dumont's plane could not rotate, while the Wright Brother’s could. It’s important to emphasize that the turning artifact was one of the criteria of the World Air Sports Federation (FAI) to accept the invention as the first airplane in the world. Equally, among those requirements, the device had to take off by its own means, something that apparently, and as has been said, did not happen under the direction of the Wright Brothers.
Aside from the historical discussion, the important thing is that Alberto Santos Dumont was a leader, a pioneer of aviation in the world and a man of vital importance for modern history.
Set between France and Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this co-production by Pindorama (famous for having produced Fonte da Juventude, the 2017 documentary about bad eating habits in Brazil), presents in six one-hour chapters a wonderful journey through the life of Alberto Santos Dumont; showing all his passion for flying and engines from his childhood. It’s a journey through his years in Paris and the enemies he made fo daring to dream big as a foreigner (being from Brazil).
The director’s chair is shared between Fernando Acquarone and Estevão Ciavatta, both founding partners of Pindorama. Acquarone is a producer, director, and editor. Estevão, in addition to directing, is also a screenwriter (not for Santos Dumont) and producer and has worked on excellent Brazilian television programs.
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